Political Disturbance In Sudan Could Lead To Massive Oil Problem

Friday, October 15, 2010
By Paul Martin

Oct. 15, 2010

Didiri Mohammad Ahmad, a senior official in Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP), said Oct. 14 that there is not enough time to prepare for the Abyei referendum, currently scheduled to occur on the same day as the referendum on Southern Sudanese independence, Jan. 9, 2011. At the same news conference, Sudanese Minister of International Cooperation Jalal Yousuf al Digair said the government would be open to a proposal to delay the vote, in which residents of Abyei will decide whether to become part of Southern Sudan, by a few months. Neither statement is tantamount to an official request from Khartoum that the referendum be postponed, but they will send a message to the semi-autonomous government of Southern Sudan in Juba that such a demand may be just around the corner.

Juba has repeatedly linked the Abyei referendum to the larger and more important vote on Southern Sudanese independence, saying that the Jan. 9 date for each poll is sacrosanct. Southern Sudanese leaders fear that allowing a delay in Abyei, which still does not even have a referendum commission, less than three months before the referendum date would set off a chain of events that could see the more prominent referendum being put off as well.

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